What costs employers $300 billion per year? Workplace stress. According to the American Institute of Stress, workplace stress can cost employers more than $300 billion annually in medical care, turnover, absenteeism, and diminished productivity.
That staggering number, coupled with the health problems that stress causes, is a major motivator to try to cut down on job stress.
Associations, unfortunately, are no strangers to stress and the problems it causes. With a full slate of member communication, board, dues management, acquisition and retention responsibilities associations often experience high turnover, and many have stressed staff.
Data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) even found that up to 40% of workers report that their job is extremely stressful, and more than a quarter of workers say they are often stressed or burnt out at work.
To reduce these numbers and improve employee satisfaction and retention, it's important for association executives to understand the source of job stress, and take steps to alleviate it.
According to the CDC, â€œjob stress results when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker.â€
Disconnects between workers and their skills, the tools they use every day, and their own personal needs, are usually unintentional. Maybe your industry shifted, or your association started using a new membership management system, and your staff didn't quite keep pace.
The bad news is that these changes will never fully go away. The good news is that associations can keep up with them and reduce employee stress with a few simple, everyday practices.
Let's look at four easy ways association executives can relieve employee stress.
Your employees can't do their jobs and provide value for your members without the right tools. Making your employees try to do too much with too little can cause problems. In a study from the University of Plymouth, workers listed a lack of equipment and resources as one of the top reasons why they felt stressed at work.
It's essential that your employees have everything they need, like an AMS platform, event system, member database, and email engine, among others. Despite being necessary, however, all these different systems can get tangled up and potentially even cause more stress when employees have to manually maintain and transfer data between your different tools. Whenever possible, try to reduce this problem by consolidating systems.
For instance, many associations are implementing all-in-one membership management solutions that provide all the tools and services employees need without adding stress. That usually means a system that's affordable, allows data to flow seamlessly, and has excellent customer support, so no one stresses out if a sudden problem comes up.
The value of ongoing training is often underestimated. Not only does ongoing training make your staff more skilled and efficient, it also helps alleviate workplace stress. Along with the need for proper tools, the University of Plymouth found that another top reason workers felt stressed was a lack of â€œadequate training to do the job.â€
Ongoing training on technology platforms such as your association management software, industry shifts, and member needs will help employees keep up with the changes your organization goes through. As they gain the skills they need to succeed and learn more about your association and its tools, employees will become more confident and less stressed over job-related tasks.
Encourage your employees to express concern, ask questions, and communicate scheduling issues. If someone needs help, or has expertise to offer, they should be comfortable speaking up.
When employees feel that their thoughts and opinions, including their concerns, are heard, then they feel like they have a say in the organization and their jobs. That's a great way to reduce stress and make your staff feel valued, so be sure there's open communication between you and your entire team.
Make the most of your employees' and volunteers' abilities by delegating as well. Your association has a wealth of experts, from staff members to committee volunteers and technology providers. Use them. Delegating projects or breaking them up into pieces for different team members to complete will help you accomplish your tasks faster and more efficiently. The teamwork will also foster positive interpersonal relationships between staff members, further reducing stress.
Just think. If you empower your members to plan events, let your staff oversee retention campaigns, and use your AMS provider's association management services for technical maintenance, then you've drastically reduced your daily task list - and your stress.
Once you've started an ongoing conversation with staff, make sure to keep the lines of communication open and build on positive staff experiences. Recognizing the achievements of your association and individual staff members is one way to do this. According to the Mayo Clinic, positivity is a major stress reducer. By highlighting initiatives that have gone well and valuable staff contributions, you create a positive work environment.
Pointing out achievements ensures that you don't fall into the trap of being a manager that's â€œforever finding faultâ€ â€“ another of the stressors listed in the University of Plymouth study.
Start by telling staff when your association achieves a major milestone and pointing out how employees helped you do it. Take things a step further by congratulating employees who complete big projects, or whose work clearly makes an impact. Your recognition shows staff that their contributions are valued.
The projects that cause the most stress are often the ones that are most important. Many experts believe that the key to relieving that stress is to prioritize effectively. The most important tasks should be completed first, with less essential projects done later. By finishing the important project first, employees will relieve the stress that comes with them.
Stress might be inevitable in today's quickly changing, multitasking world, but there are ways to reduce its impact on your association's staff and create a positive, productive environment. Help your team get the tools and skills they need to do their jobs well, and foster an open, positive environment where everyone can contribute, build relationships, and feel valued.
These everyday practices will reduce stress, trickling down over time to have a positive impact on productivity, work quality, and employee retention.